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What are Acronyms?

An acronym is a word formed from the first letter or letters of a compound term and pronounced as a word, e.g., SCUBA represents Self-Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus. Whereas an initialization is pronounced using the letters that it forms, e.g., AKA represents Also Known As.

Both acronyms and initializations are formed from the first letter or letters of the words they represent; they are a shorten version of multi-word names and phrases. Their difference lies in how they are pronounced. An acronym forms a word and is pronounced as a word, whereas an initialization is pronounced using the letters that forms it.

Initialization and Acronym List

Both acronyms and initialization are used in everyday conversation and can be commonly found in print. We’ve included the most common ones in the list below and differentiate between the two using either an “A” or “I” for acronym or initialization, respectively.

24/7 24 hours a day, 7 days a week I
3D Three-dimensional I
3M Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing I
4WD 4WD – Four-Wheel Drive I
A&W Allen & Wright (Root Beer) I
AA Alcoholics Anonymous I
AAA American Automobile Association I
AARP American Association of Retired Persons I
ABC Already been chewed I
ABC American Broadcasting System I
ABS Anti-Lock Braking System I
AC Air conditioning I
ACL Anterior Cruciate Ligament
(ligament often torn in knee injuries)
AD Anno Domini (In the Year of Our Lord) I
ADA Americans with Disabilities Act I
ADA American Dental Association I
ADD Attention Deficit Disorder I
ADHD Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder I
ADP Automatic Data Processing I
AFC American Football Conference I
AI Artificial Intelligence I
AIDS Acquired immune deficiency syndrome A
AIG American International Group I
AKA Also known as I
AM Ante Meridiem (before noon) I
AM Amplitude modification (radio) I
AMEX American Express (credit card) I
AMT Alternative Minimum Tax I
AOL America Online I
AP Advanced Placement I
AP Associated Press I
APR Annual Percentage Rate I
ARM Adjustable Rate Mortgage A
ASAP As soon as possible I
AT&T American Telephone and Telegraph I
ATM Automated teller machine I
ATV All Terrain Vehicle I
AVG Average I
AWD All-Wheel Drive I
AWOL Absent (or away) without leave A
AX Armani Exchange I
B&B Bed & Breakfast I
B&N Barnes & Noble I
BBC British Broadcasting Corporation I
BC Before Christ I
BC Because I
BCC Blind Carbon Copy I
BCE Before the Common/Current/Christian Era I
BLOG Short for “Web Log” A
BLT Bacon, lettuce and tomato I
BM Bowel movement I
BMI Body Mass Index I
BMOC Big man on campus I
BMW Bayerische Motoren Werke (Bavarian Motor Works) I
BO Body ordor I
BTO Big-time operator I
BTW By the way I
BWI Baltimore Washington International I
BYOB Bring your own beverage I
CBS Columbia Broadcasting System I
CC Credit card I
CC Carbon Copy I
CD Certificate of deposit I
CD Compact Disc I
CE Continuing Education I
CEO Chief Executive Officer I
CFE Certified Fraud Examiner I
CFO Chief Financial Officer I
CFP Certified Financial Planner I
CIA Central Intelligence Agency I
CNN Cable News Network I
CO Commanding officer I
COB Close Of Business I
COD Cash on delivery I
COGS Cost of Goods Sold I
COO Chief Operating Officer I
CPA Certified Public Account I
CPE Continuing Professional Education I
CPR Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation I
CPU Central Processing Unit I
CSI Crime Scene Investigation I
CST Central standard time I
CSV Comma separated value I
CTO Chief Technology Officer I
CYA Cover your ^#? I
DA District Attorney I
DBA Doing Business As I
DEA Drug Enforcement Agency I
DFW Dallas/Fort Worth I
DIA Denver International Airport I
DINK Dual income no kids A
DJ Disk jockey I
DNA Deoxyribonucleic Acid I
DOA Dead on arrival I
DOD Department of Defense I
DOE Department Of Energy I
DOL Department of Labor I
DOS Disk Operating System A
DOT Department of Transportation I
DQ Disqualified I
DSL Digital Subscriber Line I
DST Daylight saving time I
DUI Driving Under the Influence I
DVD Digital video disk I
DVR Digital Video Recorder I
DWI Driving While Intoxicated I
EDP Electronic Data Processing I
EFT Electronic Funds Transfer I
EKG Electrocardiogram I
EMT Emergency Medical Technician I
EOD End of day I
EP Extended Play (Record) I
EPA Environmental Protection Agency I
EPCOT Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow A
EPS EPS – Earnings Per Share I
ER Emergency Room I
ERA Equal rights amendment I
ERISA Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 A
ESL English as a second language I
ESPN Entertainment and Sports Programming Network I
EST Eastern standard time I
ET Extra terrestrial I
ETF Exchange Traded Funds I
ETR Early to rise I
FANNIE MAE Federal National Mortgage Association
(a privately owned corporation)
FAQ Frequently asked questions I
FASB Financial Accounting Standards Board A
FBI Federal Bureau of Investigation I
FCC Federal Communications Commission I
FDA Food and Drug Administration I
FDIC Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation I
FDR Franklin Delano Roosevelt I
FedEx Federal Express A
FEMA Federal Emergency Management Agency A
FIAT Fabbrica Italiana Automobili Torino A
FIFO First in, first out A
FM Frequency modification (radio) I
FMV Fair Market Value I
FNC Fox News Channel I
FREDDIE MAC Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation A
FT Full Time I
FTC Federal Trade Commission I
FTP File Transfer Protocol I
FUBAR “Fudged” Up Beyond All Recognition (the PC version) A
FYI For your information I
GC Gift certificate I
GC General contractor I
GDP Gross Domestic Product I
GE General Electric I
GED General Education Diploma I
GEICO Government Employees Insurance Company I
GI Government issue I
GIF Graphic Interchange Format A
GIGO Garbage in, garbage out A
GINNIE MAE Government National Mortgage Association A
GL General Ledger I
GM General Manager I
GM General Motors or General Mills I
GMAT Graduate Management Admission Test A
GMO Genetically modified I
GNC General Nutrition Centers I
GNP Gross national product I
GOP Grand Old Party I
GPA Grade point average I
GPS Global Positioning System I
GRE Graduate Record Examination I
HAS Health Savings Account I
HAZ-MAT Hazardous material A
HBO Home Box Office I
HDTV High Definition Television I
HEMI Hemispherical Combustion Chamber A
Hi-Fi High Fidelity A
HIPAA Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act A
HIV Human immunodeficiency virus I
HMO Health Maintenance Organization I
HOA Home Owners’ Association I
HP Hewlett Packard I
HQ Headquarters I
HR Human resources I
HS High School I
HTML Hyper Text Mark-up Language I
HTTP Hyper Text Transfer Protocol I
HUD U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development A
HVAC Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning I
IBM International Business Machines Corporation I
ICU Intensive Care Unit I
ID Identification I
IEP Individualized Educational Plan I
IM Instant message I
IMF International Monetary Fund I
IMHO In my humble opinion I
IMO In my opinion I
ING Internationale Nederlanden Group (a financial company) I
IOU I owe you I
IP Internet Protocol I
IPO Initial Public Offering I
IQ Intelligence quotient I
IRA Individual Retirement Account I
IRA International Reading Association I
IRA Irish Republican Army I
IRS Internal Revenue Service I
ISBN International Standard Book Number I
ISP Internet Service Provider I
IT Information Technology I
IV Intravenous I
JAG Judge Advocate General A
JC Penny’s James Cash Penney I
JFK John Fitzgerald Kennedy I
JPEG Joint Photographic Experts Group
(24-bit image storage format)
JV Junior varsity I
KFC Kentucky Fried Chicken I
KISS Keep it simple stupid A
KKK Klu Klux Klan I
KO Knockout I
KPI Key Performance Indicator I
KPMG Klynveld Peat Marwick Goerdeler (accounting firm) I
LAN Local Area Network A
LASER Light amplification by stimulated emission of radiation A
LAX Los Angeles International Airport A
LCD Liquid crystal display I
LD Learning Disabled I
LDS Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints I
LED Light emitting diode I
LIFO Last in, first out A
LLC Limited Liability Company I
LLP Limited Liability Partnership I
LOL Laugh out loud I
LP Long Play (Record) I
LPGA Ladies Professional Golf Association I
LSAT Law School Admission Test A
LTD Limited I
MADD Mothers Against Drunk Driving A
MC Master of Ceremony I
MCA The Music Corporation of America I
MCI Microwave Communications Incorporated I
MGM Metro-Goldwyn Mayer I
MH Mentally handicap I
MIA Missing in action I
MLB Major League Baseball I
MLK Martin Luther King, Jr. I
MLS Multiple Listing Service I
MMB Monday morning blues I
MO Modus operandi I
Modem MODulator-DEModulator A
MP3 Moving Picture Experts Group Layer-3 Audio I
MPG MPG – Miles Per Gallon I
MRE Meals ready to eat I
MRI Magnetic resonance imaging I
MS Manuscript I
MS Multiple Sclerosis I
MSG Monosodium Glutamate I
MSN Microsoft Network I
MSRP Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price I
MST Mountain standard time I
MTD Month to date I
MTV Music Television I
MYOB Mind your own business I
NA Not applicable I
NA North America I
NAACP National Association for
the Advancement of Colored People
NAFTA North American Free Trade Agreement A
NASA National Aeronautics and Space Administration A
NASCAR National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing I
NASDAQ National Association of Securities
Dealers Automated Quotation (system)
NATO North Atlantic Treaty Organization A
NBA National Basketball Association I
NBA National Boxing Association I
NBA National Business Association I
NBC National Broadcasting System I
NCAA National Collegiate Athletic Association I
NCIS Naval Criminal Investigation Service I
NDA Non-Disclosure Agreement I
NEA National Education Association I
NFC National Football Conference I
NFL National Football League I
NIB New in the box I
NIFL National Institute for Literacy I
NIMBY Not in my backyard A
NIS Naval Investigative Service I
NIV New International Version (of the Bible) I
NPV Net Present Value I
NRA National Rifle Association I
NRP National Reading Panel I
NSA National Safety Associates I
NSA National Security Agency I
NSC National Security Council I
NYSE New York Stock Exchange I
OBO Or Best Offer I
OCD Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder I
OCD Overdose I
OJ Orange juice I
OPEC Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries A
OPM Other People’s Money I
OSHA Occupational Safety and Health Administration A
OT Occupational Therapy I
OTC Over the Counter I
P&G Proctor and Gamble I
PA Public Address (System) I
PB Personal Best I
PBJ Peanut butter & jelly I
PBS Public Broadcasting System I
PC Personal computer I
PC Politically correct I
PCAOB Public Company Accounting Oversight Board I
PDA Public displays of affection I
PDA Personal Digital Assistant (like a Palm® Pilot) I
PDF Portable Document Format (created by Adobe Acrobat) I
PDQ Pretty darn quick I
PE Price to Earnings (Ratio) I
PGA Professional Golfers’ Association I
PI Private investigator I
PIN Personal identification number A
PL Profit and Loss I
PM Post meridiem (after noon) I
PMI Private Mortgage Insurance I
PMS Premenstrual syndrome I
PO Purchase Order I
POA Power of attorney I
POP Point of Purchase I
POSH Port out, starboard home A
POTUS President of the United States I
POV Point of view I
POW Prisoner of war I
PPND Postponed I
PPS Post post-script I
PR Public relations I
PR Personal Record I
PS Post script I
PS Public school I
PS2 Play Station 2 I
PS3 Play Station 3 I
PSI Pounds per square inch I
PST Pacific standard time I
PT Part Time I
PT Physical Training I
PTA Parent-teacher association I
PTO Paid time off I
PV Present Value I
PVC Polyvinyl Chloride (plastic) I
Q&A Questions & answers I
QB Quarterback I
QC Quality Control I
R&R Rest & relaxation I
RADAR Radio detecting and range A
RAM Random Access Memory A
RBG Red, blue, green I
RBI Runs Batted In (baseball) I
RCA Radio Corporation of America I
REI Recreational Equipment, Inc I
REIT Real Estate Investment Trust A
REM Rapid Eye Movement
(also a popular Rock Band in the 90s)
REO Real Estate Owned I
RICO Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization Act A
RIP Rest in peace I
RN Registered Nurse I
ROE Return on Equity I
ROI Return on Investment I
ROM Read-only memory A
ROTC Reserve Officers Training Corps I
ROYGBIV Red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo & violet A
RPG Role playing game I
RSS Really Simple Syndication OR RDF Site Summary I
RSVP Respondez s’il vous plait (French for “please resond”) I
RV Recreational vehicle I
S&P S&P – Standard & Poor’s I
SASE Self-addressed stamped envelope I
SAT Scholastic Aptitude (or assessment) Test I
SBA Small Business Administration I
SCUBA Self-contained underwater breathing apparatus A
SEC Securities Exchange Commission I
SEO Search Engine Optimization I
SEP Simplified Employee Pension A
SIDS Sudden Infant Death Syndrome A
SMTP Simple Mail Transfer Protocol I
SNAFU Situation normal: all fouled up A
SNL Saturday Night Live I
SOB Son of a female dog I
SOL Sorry, out of luck I
SONAR Sound navigation ranging A
SOP Standard operating procedure I
SOS Save our ship I
SOS Save our souls I
SPF Sun protection factor I
SRO Standing room only I
SSA Social Security Administration I
SSL Secure Sockets Layer I
SSN Social Security Number I
STD Sexually Transmitted Disease I
STET Let it stand (editor’s mark) A
SUV Sports Utility Vehicle I
SWAK Seal with a kiss A
SWAT Special Weapons and Tactics A
TB Tuberculosis I
TBA To be announced I
TBD To be determined I
TCBY The Country’s Best Yogurt
(originally This Can’t Be Yogurt)
TD Touchdown I
TDD Telecommunications device for the deaf I
TEAM Together everyone achieves more I
TEFLON Tetrafloroethylene resin A
TEOTWAWKI The end of the world as we know it I
TGIF Thank God it’s Friday I
TIA Thanks in advance I
TIN Tax Identification Number I
TIP To insure promptness I
TLC Tender loving care I
TLC The Learning Channel I
TM Trademark I
TNN The National Network I
TNT Trinitrotoluene I
TTY Teletypewriter (how the
hearing impaired use telephones)
TV Television I
UFC Ultimate Fighting Championship I
UFO Unidentified flying object I
UMB United Missouri Bank I
UN United Nations I
UNICEF United Nations International
Children’s Emergency Fund
UPC Universal product code I
UPS United Parcel Service I
UPS Uninterrupted Power Source I
URL Uniform Resource Locator (web address) I
USA United States of America I
USAF United States Air Force I
USB Universal Serial Bus I
USDA United States Department of Agriculture I
USF United States Air Force I
USGS United States Geological Survey I
USMC United States Marine Corps I
USPS United States Postal Service I
VBS Vacation Bible School I
VCR Video cassette recorder I
VH1 Video Hits #1 I
VHS Video Home System I
VIP Very important person I
VMA Video Music Awards I
VP Vice president I
VW Volkswagen I
WASP White Anglo-Saxon Protestant A
WHO World Health Organization I
WiFi Wireless Fidelity A
WOM Word of mouth I
WSJ Wall Street Journal I
WTB Want to buy I
WWF World Wrestling Federation I
WWF World Wildlife Fund I
WWI World War One I
WWII World War Two I
WWW World Wide Web I
WYSIWYG What you see is what you get I
XC Cross Country I
XML eXtensible Markup Language I
YMCA Young Men’s Christian Association I
YTD Year to date I
ZIP Zone Improvement Plan A

If we missed one, please use our comment form to let us know.

Source Fry, E.B., Ph.D. & Kress, J.E., Ed.D. (2006). The Reading Teacher’s Book of Lists 5th Edition. San Francisco, CA: Jossey Bass.

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